The Port of Vancouver’s former director has been hired to lead the West Plains-Airport Area Public Development Authority.
Todd Coleman was hired Wednesday after a national search. The PDA was created last year by the city of Spokane, Spokane County and Spokane International Airport to spur economic development on the West Plains.
Coleman will start June 18, earning a $110,000 base salary.
Coleman spent 15 years at the Port of Vancouver, resigning in 2016. He’s credited with getting Vancouver Energy interested in building a crude oil terminal on the Columbia River, which created controversy throughout the Northwest. Spokane residents followed the effort closely. The rail-to-marine terminal would have been the nation’s largest, receiving about 360,000 barrels of crude oil daily. Construction of the terminal would have led to a growth in oil-train traffic through Spokane’s downtown.
Coleman eventually recommended that the Port of Vancouver abandon the project. In January, the Port of Vancouver’s commissioners voted to end the lease. Despite the controversy surrounding the project, PDA board members were impressed with how Coleman handled the process for the terminal, said Larry Krauter, CEO for Spokane Airports and the PDA’s board chairman.
“He had a lot of integrity,” said Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart, who talked to other elected officials and environmental groups about Coleman. “They had only positive things to say about Todd.”
Coleman’s versatile background was also a plus for the job, Krauter said. He’s a professional engineer, holds a master’s degree in business administration and has a background in real estate. He most recently worked for Parametrix, a regional engineering, planning and construction management company.
“I think his heart is really motivated by economic development,” Krauter said
Through the PDA, the city, county and airport will set aside 75 percent of the tax revenue created by improvements and new businesses in a defined geographic area. The money is targeted for projects that will increase jobs, such as public infrastructure.
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